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August 24, 2015

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Graduate Reinvents Herself after 35 Years Out of School

Graduate Reinvents Herself after 35 Years Out of School

Bristol Campus medical assisting graduate Debbie Bowman had worked for a local battery manufacturer for 18 years when she lost her job due to the plant’s closure. Fortunately, a public-private partnership between National College, the state of Tennessee, and the federal Departments of Education and Labor presented her with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent herself.

The Trade Adjustment Act, a Department of Labor program, supplies a generous amount of funding for laid-off employees like Debbie. Financial aid programs of the Department of Education, state funding from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, and National’s own Workforce Development Grant made it so that Debbie could attend college without taking on any student debt. While she had her choice of college programs to attend, when she visited National College, she had an easy decision. 

“From day one until the day I graduated, they have been so good to me, and treated me so well and wanted me to succeed.”

“National was the third campus I went to visit, and they were the most informative, the most helpful,” said Debbie. “From day one until the day I graduated, they have been so good to me, and treated me so well and wanted me to succeed.”

Returning to school in her mid-fifties was a daunting challenge for Debbie, as it is for many older students. “I loved the smaller classrooms, that helped me a lot; I think as an older student in some classes I needed more help,” she said. “The biggest adjustment was the computers, but I had a lot of help from fellow students and the instructors.”

After completing her program and graduating with her class in May, Debbie was impressed with the continued dedication of the staff and faculty. “When I graduated, I could see the look of pride on their faces,” Debbie said, holding back a tear. “They’ve helped me, [director of health science education Sheri] Jessee has referred me to several places for employment; it didn’t stop just because I stopped going there.”

So it was that Debbie was soon thereafter hired by Holston Medical Group, the area’s largest health care provider and a key partner of National College. Debbie immediately put her medical assisting skills to work. “I take vitals, enter information into the computer, help the doctor if I’m needed for a procedure,” she said, describing her typical duties. “I care about people—some of them come in and they don’t feel good, and if I can put a smile on their face and help them feel a little bit better, that makes me feel better,” she added with a smile.

Now that she’s started in a new career she loves, Debbie has nothing but praise for the people who helped her get there. “I would recommend National to everyone young or old; I had a wonderful experience there,” she said. “It’s like we’re a family, that’s how I felt there.”

Graduate Debbie Bowman found the support of the Bristol Campus faculty and staff to be a major source of motivation in helping her complete her college education.

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Get Your ANU Gear!

Get Your ANU Gear!

Want to show your ANU pride? Check out the brand-new official website for American National University gear! Click this link to shop for all ANU gear, including t-shirts, fleece jackets, hats, button-down shirts, accessories, and much more –

Shop now and receive 25% off your order! (special offer available through Sept. 1)

Show your school pride on campus and in your community. *Allow 2-3 weeks for shipping*

Student Has a Heart for Helping Others

Student Has a Heart for Helping Others

Angelica Crews has served in the U.S. Army for nearly eight years and was in Afghanistan as recently as 2011. Following her full-time career in the Army, Angelica transitioned to working a civilian job as a shift supervisor at a convenience store while still serving in the Army Reserve.

Having always had a passion for helping others, Angelica realized she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field and, upon the advice of an already attending friend, she checked out ANU’s Roanoke Valley Campus. After reviewing the health science program options available, she selected the medical assisting and pharmacy technician programs, which she felt would be the ideal springboard into her dream career in pediatrics. “I love kids,” said Angelica. “I want to work in a [pediatric] medical office helping people. I’d do anything for anybody.” 

“The instructors are truly in it for the students.”

In the future, Angelica plans to continue her education, furthering her career options. “I love learning,” she said. “I always try to learn new things.” Her ultimate goal is to become a physician’s assistant. “Bodies are never going to change,” explained Angelica of why she is interested in a career in medicine. “Procedures may, but the body never will.”

In addition to the small classes and the hands-on-learning she has found at ANU, Angelica is also grateful to have found a strong support system in the form of dedicated instructors who bring a lot of outside knowledge regarding their experiences into the classroom. In particular, she has found instructor Richard Ingraham, a fellow veteran, to be inspiring. “We read on the same wave-length,” said Angelica. “We are both prior service military, and he has a structured way of teaching. There is no leeway and the classes are never boring. They are awesome.” She is also inspired by the “go-getter” attitude of instructor and career center director Kristal Bushong and appreciates how instructor Barbara Schultz makes classes interesting. “She’s so smart; I could listen to her for hours,” shared Angelica.

“The [instructors] are truly in it for the students,” said Angelica. “They work together to build on classes. When graduation comes, I will be prepared.”

A- Angelica Crews is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserve and is a medical assisting and pharmacy technician student. 

B- Angelica plans to continue her education after graduation next February and would like to eventually be a physician’s assistant.

Externship Leads to Employment for Multimedia Graduate

Externship Leads to Employment for Multimedia Graduate

Multimedia production program graduate Salvador Thompson was determined to land a job with Lexington’s legendary LM Communications, and he was able to do just that thanks to his training and excellent work ethic during his externship. “I love this industry and this is THE place to work,” explained Salvador. “I was determined to work here, and my ten-week externship gave me the chance to prove my worth. I was always on time, I never missed a day, and I always tried to do more than they asked me to do—and they hired me!”

Salvador’s current role with LM Communications is in audio production for the daily ‘Sports Huddle’ segment. “It is intense, demanding, and you’re either on your game or you ruin a broadcast,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Some would call it pressure, but I thrive on the challenge. My training at American National provided me with the skills to do this job skillfully.”

He is quick to credit all the faculty and staff at the Lexington Campus for helping him and guiding him to his dream career, encouraging him every step of the way. “I went from having no future to THIS—because ANU offered the training I needed to break into an industry which is, historically, extremely difficult to enter,” beamed Salvador. “I can honestly say American National University changed my entire life and future. This is a hands-on profession and ANU gave me the tools I needed for a fantastic career that I never would have had otherwise. I’m so very grateful to everyone!”

“I can honestly say American National University changed my entire life and future.”

Salvador also plans to use his training, combined with the experience he’s gaining in his new job, to open his own radio distribution company. “This is just the start,” he smiled. “I want to work with our youth and provide opportunities for them to have a dream career of their own in this industry. It’s my way to pay it forward.”

Read more about Sal’s educational journey at ANU here: Student Has Sights Set 

Following a successful externship, multimedia production graduate Salvador Thompson has been hired at LM Communications in Lexington.

A Dozen Years of Employment Support for ANU Graduates

A Dozen Years of Employment Support for ANU Graduates

Since 2003, Food City has been hiring Princeton Campus students and graduates for various positions, ranging from pharmacy technicians to assistant managers. In recognition of this long-standing relationship, it was with great pleasure that career center director Elaine Owens recently presented Nat Henley, manager of Food City, with American National University’s Distinguished Community Employer Award.

“We are lucky and glad to have them here.”

Mr. Henley has been employed with Food City for eight years, as a manager for three years, and has been with the Bluefield, VA facility for 4 months. Former manager Steve Remines was also a great supporter of ANU graduates, and the Princeton Campus staff looks forward to continuing the partnership with Food City under Mr. Henley’s leadership.

“We are lucky and glad to have them here,” Mr. Henley said of working with ANU graduates. Food City currently employs two graduates of ANU’s business administration-management program, one an assistant manager in the meat department and the other a shift supervisor.

Food City manager Nat Henley accepted the Distinguished Community Employer Award from the Princeton Campus.

Graduate Finds Her Path to Career Success at ANU

Graduate Finds Her Path to Career Success at ANU

As a mother of three, Ashten Dawalt didn’t have to look far to find the inspiration that she needed to complete her medical assisting program at the Florence Campus—she did it for her kids. And although it wasn’t easy keeping up with her studies through two pregnancies and several family health scares, she kept her eye on the prize, and today she is reaping the reward working as a registered medical assistant (RMA) at Bluegrass Urgent Care.

“I came in with a friend to [take the tour], and I decided at the last minute that I was going to go back to school,” Ashten recalled of her first visit to ANU. “I had looked into bigger schools, but [with] my anxiety about a huge school--I couldn’t [enroll].”

“Growing up I didn't think that I'd be a college graduate; National definitely changed everything.”

At ANU, Ashten most enjoyed her clinical classes where she learned how to draw blood and give injections while working one-on-one with her instructors. “All of the instructors are awesome. They’re very encouraging,” she stated. 

After mastering her skills in the classroom, she worked in an externship at Bluegrass Urgent Care, where she was able to gain in-field experience and prove her skills to the office team. “I was giving injections six hours in on my first day, so it was really cool to be [using my skills] on real patients,” she said. 

Shortly after she completed the externship, the practice called Ashten back in for an interview, and she was hired to work as an RMA rotating among its three locations in Newport, Crescent Springs, and Walton.

“Growing up I didn’t think that I’d be a college graduate,” Ashten shared. “National definitely changed everything.”

A- Ashten Dawalt was hired by Bluegrass Urgent Care after working in the practice as an extern.

B- The support of her family and the staff at ANU enabled Ashten to complete her medical assisting program at the Florence Campus and find a new career as a registered medical assistant.

Stephen Sullivan—IT Department Chair—Danville, Kentucky

Stephen Sullivan—IT Department Chair—Danville, Kentucky

Stephen Sullivan is the IT department chair at the Danville, Kentucky Campus. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire; Master of Education degree from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY; and Rank 1 (30 hours beyond master’s) in secondary supervision from Eastern Kentucky University. He taught in the public school system for twenty-nine years, and he has taught computer, math, and psychology courses at ANU for the last eight years. Stephen is the recipient of an ANU Instructor of the Year award and was named Teacher of the Year twice at Sandhills Public Schools in Dunning, Nebraska.

“Ever since I started teaching at National, I have admired the hard-working attitude of the students. These are non-traditional students who have jobs and families besides taking college classes, yet they go above and beyond the effort of many traditional college students. I appreciate students who strive to improve themselves by doing whatever it takes to reach goals they have set for their lives.”

“I appreciate students who strive to improve themselves by doing whatever it takes to reach goals they have set for their lives.”

“I challenge each student by emphasizing to them that they can succeed in the particular class they are taking. I try to give them the confidence that with hard work, good study habits, and a can-do attitude they will succeed in the class. I want them to know I believe in them and they should believe in themselves.”

“I had a student in an Algebra class the fourth year I taught at National go from having trouble with simple calculations and an ‘I can’t do math attitude’ to solving algebraic equations on the final exam. Hard work, tutoring, and success in small steps for each topic turned them in to a very good math student. At the end of the term, they told me they had confidence they could pass any class they needed to take for their degree. They realized hard work does pay off. They could accomplish their career goals.”

Student Gets New Outlook on Life Thanks to ANU

Student Gets New Outlook on Life Thanks to ANU

“I wake up each day knowing I’m working towards a better tomorrow,” Breann Boyd explained of her experience so far at the Pikeville Campus. Breann is in her second term at ANU, studying to become a medical assistant and couldn’t be more pleased. It’s quite a different outlook compared to where she was not too long ago. “A year ago, I was working a dead end job in fast food and absolutely miserable, but I visited the admissions staff, learned about the many programs, and then enrolled after completing my GED,” Breann shared.

“ANU has changed my life. You have to follow your dreams; you won't know what you can do unless you try.”

Breann has a great support system at home, which includes her husband and her two young children. Her six-year-old son, Trenton, helped inspire her to go into the medical field since he was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. “I want to make sure I know and understand everything going on with Trenton,” Breann stated. “Plus I have always wanted to help people and make a difference.”

Breann knows she has found the right place for her to make her dreams a reality with American National University, explaining that she had never felt more welcomed at a university, and that everyone is very supportive and helpful. She also stated that the atmosphere created through small classes really helps her by allowing for more one-on-one learning.

“I don’t plan on stopping here, I see myself getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and becoming a nurse practitioner, working with babies and children,” Breann revealed of her future goals. “ANU has changed my life. You have to follow your dreams; you won’t know what you can do unless you try.”

A- Student Breann Boyd volunteered at the Pikeville Campus’s annual Healthy Fun Fair on July 30.

B- Breann chose to go into medical assisting to better understand her son’s health condition.

Graduate Benefits from Campus’s Community Connections

Graduate Benefits from Campus’s Community Connections

After graduating from the health information management (HIM) program at the Louisville Campus, Norman Bartley took a big step up in his medical career moving from a physically demanding job as a patient aid at a state hospital into a professional position working as a release of information technician at Baptist Health.

Instructors who are professionals in their field and advisory boards comprised of representatives from local employers are two of the hallmarks of the programs at American National University, and two of the big advantages of being an ANU student which helped Norman quickly land his job.

“I would recommend ANU. It’s got some of the best instructors that I’ve ever had.”

“I would recommend ANU. It’s got some of the best instructors that I’ve ever had. I actually work with a couple of them here,” he said of his instructors who bring their experience in the field to the classroom and act as valuable connections with the companies where they work. 

Program director Linda Burcham’s commitment to her students was also crucial to Norman’s success as he prepared to take the exam to become a registered health information technician (RHIT), a credential that’s increasingly sought after by employers. “That was the hardest test I’ve ever taken,” Norman stated, adding that he prepared to take the test during his exam success class and study groups. “Ms. Burcham was a huge help.  She held meetings after school to come in and [take practice tests]. It was a lot of work, but it paid off.”

His hard work and dedication to his new career were evident to the representatives from Baptist Health that he met while networking with employers during an HIM program advisory board meeting at ANU. “A couple of the [members] of the advisory board are my supervisors here. They told me to apply and I applied and [got the job],” Norman explained. “I consider myself detail oriented and you have to be pretty detail oriented to do this job. A couple of my instructors [from ANU] gave me a good reference, too.”

As a release of information technician, Norman works with government audits of Medicare records. “I love working for Baptist—great people, great company,” he stated. “[My job is] going to help me with my income and my benefits. It’s made a drastic change in my life. It’s going to make a difference for my kids, too.”

A- After earning his health information management degree at the Louisville Campus and becoming certified as a registered health information technician (RHIT), graduate Norman Bartley has been hired as a release of information technician at Baptist Health.

B- Norman Bartley (standing left) is shown being recognized as an ANU graduate during the health information management advisory board meeting at the Louisville Campus, where he networked with employers who helped him land his job at Baptist Health.

Graduate Excels in her Job as Engineering Assistant for Local Manufacturer

Graduate Excels in her Job as Engineering Assistant for Local Manufacturer

Ashly Brock never envisioned herself working as the lead engineering assistant at Lectrodryer, a local manufacturing company, but after graduating from the Richmond Campus with a double major in business administration-management and accounting, she has realized she has the foundation she needs to succeed in most any business environment.

Ashly first began working at Lectrodryer in a temporary position, filling in for a receptionist on leave. But after demonstrating her exemplary business skills on the job, the company hired her as an engineering assistant, and she was recently promoted from there to lead engineering assistant.

“Even though it’s been several years, the classes always stay with you.”

Ashly’s work at Lectrodryer is perfectly suited for her detail-oriented disposition, and she uses the technology skills that she gained at ANU every day on the job. “I do a lot of spreadsheets and make sure that everybody stays on target so that we can hit our ship dates,” she explained.  “Even though it’s been several years [since attending ANU], the classes always stay with you.”

Lectrodryer was recently recognized as a Distinguished Community Employer by the Richmond Campus due to its ongoing support of ANU and its graduates, and Ashly loves the family atmosphere and supportive coworkers that she has found there. Her supervisor is so pleased with her work that he has encouraged her to continue her education in the field of engineering.  “I definitely want to continue to pursue my career here,” Ashly said.

Ashly Brock is using the business, accounting, and technology skills that she gained at ANU in her job as the lead engineering assistant at Lectrodryer.

The National News is a biweekly publication designed to share the success and academic accomplishments of students and graduates from American National University and National College. For more information, contact the Communications Department.

In accordance with the regulations of the Tennessee Higher Education Council, all references to "American National University" refer to "National College" in the state of Tennessee.